Lost Connections

Lost Connections

Maurice Earls

Most groups wrongfooted by the advent of Irish independence in the 1920s have since made their peace with it: the state’s Protestant minority, Trinity College, even diehard republicans. But the Jesuit order, it seems, is still dragging its feet and hankering after what has been lost.

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It’s That Man Again

It’s That Man Again

Eoghan Smith

Banville’s heroes are by now familiar to us. Remote, middle-aged elitist types, tortured by the burden of existence and the shadow of death, they may not be hugely wealthy but are never poor. Often they are on the margins of a declining gentry that exudes old-world mystique.

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A Massacre of Art?

A Massacre of Art?

Catherine Marshall

A stimulating new study, focusing on one painting and its contemporary critical reception, illuminates the French painter Eugène Delacroix, a man who, ‘reactionary in his ideas, romantic in his talent’, was, according to Victor Hugo, in contradiction with his own works.

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A Catastrophe Not Foreseen

Pádraig Murphy

Russia’s handling of its client Serbia in the run-up to the First World War was an object lesson in how not to do it. While it is a mistake to assign exclusive culpability for the outbreak of the war to any single state actor, equally none can be absolved of responsibility.

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Representing Disaster

Patrick J Murray

Responding to traumatic events remains one of art’s most problematic undertakings. Horrific events are often beyond articulation and this sense of inadequacy is enhanced when the creative work, with its overtones of pleasure and even whimsy, enters the fray.

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Friends At War

John Mulqueen

The Irish Civil War has often been presented as a conflict in which ‘the men of no property’ challenged those with a stake in the country for dominance. But this analysis ignores the plentiful support there was for the Free State government among the very poorest classes.

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Old Europe, Aging America

Joe Cleary

Two recent works of literary theory sketch a robust structural account of the literary world system centred on London and Paris. But one might ask if this system can be better historicised and whether there are ways to conceive of its operational logics less rigidly.

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The Disappearing Priest

Eamon Maher

Seminarians were traditionally taught to view the body with suspicion, as a source of temptation and sin. By embracing celibacy, many priests believed they were distinguishing themselves from ordinary men and women, that they were in some way superior to them.

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Bands of Brothers

Marc Mulholland

The Third International, or Comintern, maintained for many years a vast international organisation none of its left-wing rivals could match. When the purges came in the 1930s, however, its members suffered to a proportionately greater extent than any other category.

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A Vermont Yankee On the Famine Road

Cormac Ó Gráda

Asenath Nicholson, a progressive campaigner for temperance and vegetarianism, first met the Irish in the slums of Manhattan. Visiting the country just before and during the Famine, she wrote what Frank O’Connor described as ‘a Protestant love song to a Catholic people’.

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The Others

John Swift

Edward Said can be called the father of postcolonial studies, but it could be argued that his political commentaries were as important as his theories and that, more than a decade after his death, they are still relevant to the contemporary situation in the region of his birth.

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Gaelic and Catholic?

Niall Ó Ciosáin

The coincidence of an enthusiasm for Gaelic culture and devout Catholicism in many of the revolutionary generation, and later in the official ideology of the state, disguises the indifference or hostility of the church to the Irish language in the nineteenth century.

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Scholar and Gentleman

Fergus O’Ferrall

The eighteenth century manuscript collector, historian, political activist and thinker Charles O’Conor was a remarkable figure who bridged the Gaelic tradition of his family and upbringing and the most advanced thought of the European Enlightenment.

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Solitary Prowler

Gerard Smyth

Dublin has been central to Thomas Kinsella’s imagination. No other writer since Joyce has so fervently mapped the city, and few writers have known it so intimately, having repeatedly walked its streets in meditation, the onward path always leading inwards.

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Bryan Fanning

Studies of the erosion of Catholic religious practice among the Irish in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s found that many emigrants very quickly melted into the non-religious atmosphere of the host country as soon as they felt they were no longer under close observation.

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Not All Fool

George O’Brien

Mervyn Wall’s satires are in a playful and sometimes whimsical tradition which resists the uplift of the gods and heroes phase of the Irish revival and which includes many of the works of James Stephens and, at a pinch, Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds and The Poor Mouth.

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Struggling for Sanctity

Frank Freeman

A biographer of Ernest Hemingway has argued that his life can be read in terms of a quest for sainthood, a struggle to be not just a good writer but also a good man. A blow by blow account of the life, however, reveals to what degree his ego got in the way, causing him to fall short.

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Out Of Their Feeling

Mary O’Donnell

A sparkling novel which traces the voyage of a number of young women transported to Australia to work in and help populate the ‘new land’ suggests that people can sometimes have surprising powers of adaptation, but also that they may need to forget their past.

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Steadfast Comrade

Brian Kenny

A loyal Moscow communist Sean Murray set up the Communist Party of Ireland in the early 1930s. Years of meetings, discussions and disputes followed. Murray's life was devoted to the cause but did all that work amount to a hill of beans?

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Staying Grounded

Ronan Sheehan

A beautifully written memoir tells the life story of an Irish woman who knew most of the major figures of the bohemian Dublin of the mid-twentieth century, as well as many of the politicians, and who went on to carve out a successful career for herself in the travel business.

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Red Star Over China

Caroline Hurley

Mao Zedong’s vision in the late 1940s was to replicate Soviet communism, whatever the cost for his people. The espousal of values of freedom and equality offered hope to war-weary citizens, but the new regime ran an intensely invasive and catastrophic tyranny from the start.

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Tales from the Margin

Susan Knight

Phyl Herbert writes in a clear, fluent style. Her stories are delicately constructed miniatures, tender glimpses into her often flawed characters as they make the best of their way through life.

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Mean Streets

Gerard Lee

Lisa McInerney’s first novel can be tender but it is no romance, turning us down some grotty alleyways to where her real story lurks, dragging a spliff to the lip-burn and scrunching the last dregs from a can.

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Eternal Ephemera

Anthony K Campbell

A new study of evolution features a fascinating autobiographical voyage through the development of the author’s own ideas. Too often scientific teaching in the university relies too much on what are presumed to be facts. Yet many such “facts” turn out later to be ephemeral.

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Singing the Body Electric

Nessa O’Mahony

Many fine poets writing in the Irish language stay beneath the general radar unless their work is translated or if, more rarely, they venture into English-language publication. Not so Doireann Ni Ghríofa, who arrives well-garlanded with awards and recommendations.

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Douze Points

Carol McKeogh

A study of the Eurovision Song Contest and Ireland’s participation in it over the years explores the personnel, the formats and lyrics, the staging, the voting systems and the emotional rollercoaster of being involved in the longest-running entertainment contest in the world.

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Investigating the ‘Irish’ Family

In spite of changes, most Irish people’s sense of self, the way they see and understand themselves, is developed and maintained in terms of relations with parents and siblings. Linda Connolly introduces a new study of the subject she has edited.

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Strangely (un)Christian

Emily Holman

The central characters in Michael Faber’s new novel seem to be made of Christian ingredients, yet to speak and think in ways incompatible with who they profess to be. And though the novel improves, this tonal blip tends to make for an erratic reading experience.

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Signs of the Times

Keith Payne

A new Dublin history book is more than just a roll-call of past businesses in the city. It is what much poetry attempts to be, a version of the city that stops you and makes you turn again on your wander through the city centre, tilt your head upwards and take notice.

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Eating Crow

George O’Brien

An arresting debut novel is a notable contribution to the genre of Irish populist gothic and is dark enough to make one wonder if it might not be the last word on broken-family, ruined-child tropes of betrayal and inadequacy.

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The Canon in Irish Language Fiction

Brian Ó Conchubhair and Philip O’Leary

A conference held in Dublin earlier this year set itself the difficult task of identifying the fifteen leading Irish language novels published in the twentieth century. Much debate was occasioned, and will no doubt continue, but a list of (in fact sixteen) works was arrived at.

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Necessary Things

Richard Hayes

There are no pyrotechnics in Gerald Dawe’s new collection; the poems go about their business quietly, presenting the reader, it seems, with cases to be considered, never forcing ‑ neither in formal terms nor in argument ‑ the reader towards certain ends.

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Culture Night: The History of D'Olier Street

A talk on the history of D'Olier Street from Maurice Earls focusing on the many associations with literary and political figures on Culture Night Friday 18 September 2015.

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Poets Gerry Murphy & Afric McGlinchey at Double Shot

Double Shot & Ó Bhéal present poets Gerry Murphy, Afric McGlinchey & Erin Fornoff.

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Moya Cannon reads at Poems Upstairs

Moya Cannon reads from "Keats Lives", her new collection published by Carcanet Press, at Books Upstairs on Wednesday 2 September 2015.

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The Pleasures of Destruction

Book-burning is a recurring element in our cultural history, though mostly the authorities have found censorship and regulation more effective. For the people, however, a good show is always popular and great satisfaction can often be derived from the destruction of symbolic goods.

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Paul Murray in conversation with Siobhan Parkinson

Author Paul Murray reading from his new novel The Mark and the Void" and in conversation with novelist Siobhán Parkinson at Books Upstairs, Wednesday 30 September 2015.

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Kissing Cousins

James Cousins, an early literary revival figure, fell for Gretta Gillespie. Gretta overcame an early antipathy and they married, embracing vegetarianism and theosophy, which provided a focus for enthusiasm in the absence of “some more artistic way of continuance of the race”.

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Women in the Library

Like teaching, librarianship is a profession that has long been associated with women and offered them employment opportunities when many other paths were closed off. And occasionally too they were cherished.

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Hope Springs Eternal

In 1983 the British Labour Party campaigned on a radical left-wing manifesto that delivered it its worst general election result since 1918. Now, it seems, it wants to do it all over again.

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Yellow socks and guacamole

Is an apparent lack of intellectual or cultural sophistication an essentially English trait? It is certainly one that can bear fruit for the populist politician.

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Democracy and Numbers

Does democracy mean that everyone has the right to have their will implemented? What if it clashes with everyone else's will?

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The Tories, Europe and Scotland

If the UK votes to leave the European Union could Scotland be dragged out against its will? And in those circumstances could another independence referendum be resisted?

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Death and Life of the Bookshop

Adam Gopnik laments the recent closure of a famous Parisian bookshop. Elsewhere, however, la lutte continue, the fight continues.

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A city frozen in time

The prevailing culture in Dublin is one of conservation: we don't like the new or the modern, preferring the old and crumbling. So why then has there been such sentiment about the Poolbeg chimneys, symbols of an industrial era we seem to be happy to turn our backs on?

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Don't understand, just be afraid

After graduating from Columbia, John Berryman headed to Cambridge. 'Yeats, Yeats, I'm coming! It's me!' a later poem has him exclaiming from the ship.

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Britain Brought To Book

Back in 1988, in a speech in Bruges, Margaret Thatcher laid down the law to the Europeans as to how they should run their show. She did at least acknowledge, however, that Europe was something with which Britain was connected.

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In Praise Of Ali Smith

Alex Clark pays tribute to novelist Ali Smith for her generous work on behalf of other literary practitioners, and in particular her championing of first-time authors.

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Misunderstanding Orwell

'Nineteen-Eighty Four' was first published sixty-six years ago today. Some people seemed to think that Big Brother was based on the unlikely figure of Clement Attlee.

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New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring John Banville's new novel The Blue Guitar; and new poetry collections from Sara Berkeley Tolchin and Eamon Grennan.

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World Literature

Featuring Thomas Morris's debut collection of short stories; John Niven's new comic novel The Sunshine Cruise Company; and a Granta anthology of New American Stories.

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Irish History & Politics

Featuring a fresh exploration of the heritage of the Celts; as well as a new study of medieval ecclesiastical buildings in Ireland.


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World History & Politics

Featuring Thomas Picketty's The Economics of Inequality appearing in translation for the first time.

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring a collection of multi-disciplinary essays looking at Irish feminist activism over the last one hundred years.

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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Mario Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture.

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Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring the Handbook of the Irish Revival published by the Abbey Theatre and edited by Declan Kiberd and PJ Mathews.

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More New Books ...